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Development of nanosensors for the detection of quality parameters along the food chain


7th Framework Programme, Knowledge-based Bioeconomy

Project Duration:

01.09.2008 – 31.08.2011

Project Manager:

Caroline Hennigs


Nanotechnology is one of the most recent developments in biosciences, involving matter on a scale of less than one micrometer and usually between one and 100 nanometres. It has already been applied to some nutrients to boost bioavailability but it could also be used for the development of innovative and user friendly biosensors with nanostructures, activated surfaces that facilitate state-of-the-art food quality control systems.

In NANODETECT, the nanoreaction technology will be used to develop on-line and off-line monitoring systems (sensors) which combine the expertise of sensitive and specific molecular biological processes with the potency of nanotechnology for application in liquid process streams. The nanosensors to be developed will interact with information technology tools and thus contribute to improved quality control systems within the European dairy industry as case example.

The main problem in monitoring for contaminants in the food chain is the lack of fast and user friendly on-line and off-line monitoring systems. Milk was chosen as example process stream because it is subject to different levels of various contaminations of which the following quality and safety items were chosen as models:

  • Pathogenic microorganisms (Listeria monocytogenes)
  • Mycotoxins (Aflatoxin M1)
  • Drug residues (sulphonamides and aminoglycosides)
  • Fraud (high value goat milk blended with cheaper cow milk)

The nanosensors to be developed will work on different types of immunoassays, depending on the application. Single modules will be developed for the detection and quantification of specific contaminants which can be combined according to users’ requirements. It is planned to develop on-line systems with suitable software and automated decision support systems for large industries as well as bench top and/or handheld devices for small companies with flexible production units.

The beneficiaries will jointly develop dedicated nanosystem for sample preparation that allows the passage of each molecule of the process stream with associated immunoassays for the direct quantification of the contaminants in the process stream. The beneficiaries will jointly develop a novel sensor which features activated nanostructures and innovative techniques for a specific concentration within sample preparation and analysis, respectively. The nanostructure will ensure that each contaminant molecule of the stream will be bound to the activated surface. After specific concentration of a defined sample volume, the contaminant will be analysed by an associated detector.

In the NANODETECT project, an appropriate number of industrial and academic food technologists, sensor technologists and quality managers cooperate in order to develop an innovative technology featuring the following advantages:

  • Significantly lower costs 
  • High conversion rates
  • Direct quantification
  • Easy to use, clean, sterilise and to reactivate
  • Robust construction for multiple usage
  • To be realised as online as well as bench top and/or handheld device

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Kontakt Verfahrenstechnik

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